Homeschool Conference, 2011 (Part I)
Two good friends and I adventured to the Orlando, Florida 2011 FPEA Homeschool Convention this past weekend and what a breath of fresh air! We headed out EARLY on Friday morning and enjoyed chatting on the ride to the conference about things we wanted to catch up on, but never get a chance to.
As we arrived at the conference, we scattered off to our various workshops that we had pre-planned to go to and let's just say that they were fabulous. (I'll tell a little bit about them later on.) We grabbed lunch, listened to the keynote speaker Lt. Gen. Boiken, a very respected, very amazing man. I was inspired! After a few more workshops, we had a bit of time to kill in the book vendor area where again, you pick up your jaw after walking in (due to the extreme size of the hall and how many vendors were there).
I've been in the "education profession" since 2001 and although I consider myself pretty educated in this area, I still get overwhelmed. Luckily, I was prepared. Last year was my first year and I had no idea what to expect, therefore I did not go prepared nor organized. This year, I took a few weeks to re-read The Well-Trained Mind, jot down notes of various objectives we want to touch on this coming school year, supplies needed, books needed and lots of curriculum notes. Friday was mostly just a time of scouting things out, seeing what I would need to look into with more detail the following day.
Friday evening included a nice dinner and just time to sit and relax with no little ones. I checked in with Rob and the kiddos, saying "goodnights" and "I love yous", then after a little planning and girl chatting, went to sleep in our hotel.
Saturday morning was nice. We got ready, checked out of our hotel and ventured off to the conference again to grab breakfast and head off to some more amazing workshops. After a few workshops, I headed down to the vendor area and was able to stay organized in what I needed. I got some neat books on the human body (as that's one area in science we'll be studying this year). At first, I was a little skeptical that I wouldn't find much since it's hard to find tasteful books on the human body (that don't go into hard detail on the reproduction system...not needed at such small ages anyway) and that are geared for little ones. But I finally found Dr. Seuss' book about the human body as well as a great activity book where the kids make a to-scale replica of their own body, making body parts and placing them (as we learn about each system) on their body replicas.
I found a great deal on some of the classic stories on CD for the kids to listen to during their quiet times and bedtime. Found some cheap DK books for the Ancients (Rome, Greece, China, etc.) as that's where we'll be starting with history and geography.
One of my biggest concerns was finding a good grammar book for Avonlea for first grade. Right now, she just uses A Beka. I looked into the grammar programs from the following: Rod and Staff (which wound up being my second choice), The Well-Trained Mind grammar curriculum that Jessie Wise wrote (not impressed...too much work for multiple children), and some other various curriculums. No luck. I had to keep in mind that although I only have one child tackling grammar right now, I'll eventually have 4, so I had to think with the future in mind. I know that many people "change things up" as their children grow and have differenet needs, but I wound up choosing A Beka. Having grown up on A Beka, I'm always a strong advocate for their repitition and their colorful pages (probably why I don't like Saxon...tee hee).
After spending what seemed like hours in the vendor hall, I grabbed a bite to eat and rounded up my girls to grab some workshop CDs on the way out (if you miss a workshop, you can buy the CD for $6.00 each). We were tired and ready to get back to our families, implementing all that we had learned, so we left around 5:00.
It was great to get back to Rob and the kids. The smiles, hugs, kisses and "We missed you Mommy" s were priceless. I'm not away from my family hardly ever, so although this was a great treat for some R and R away, it was so good to be back. Rob and I stayed up late catching up, chatting and sharing all that we had done that weekend (him with the kids and I with the conference).
What a wonderful weekend!!!